Today started with a tour of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto. Before we even get started on the Bamboo forest though, Kyoto itself seems to be a really nice city. The guide was saying that it was originally the capital of Japan. I've got some of that story on video tape.
Anyway, back to the bamboo forest. My movie training was WAY off... every instinct I had told me that ninjas were just about to start flying through the tops of the bamboo... but it didn't happen. I guess I hadn't really seen proper bamboo before, because this stuff is cool! Way taller and thicker than any I've seen before... I would estimate about 4-5 inches thick sometimes, and pretty damn tall! You put a lot of it together, and it's quite the sight to see. We took a pretty long walk through there, and it was well worth it.
Next we went to Golden Pavilion, a Zen Buddhist temple. The Golden Pavilion itself was pretty cool, but the grounds around it was way cooler. It was a pretty short loop around, but some lovely pictures were taken. On the top of the main structure, there was a golden phoenix.
We then spent a good bit of time at the largest temple in Kyoto, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This is when the sun really started coming out. I don't know what temperature it was, but holy hell!!! I have never sweated so much! Anyway, back to the temple. On the way up to the temple, we walked by a really large graveyard. Our guide said that his mother told him that his great great grandfather is buried there, but it's so large that he was never able to find where. He also told an interesting story about how the graves are shared or something? The oldest son is responsible for the family grave... I taped it, but you could probably Google it for yourself. If I understood it correctly, it makes so that they space can be used more efficiently after cremation. The temple itself definitely was the largest one we've been too. We got lunch in this area, and I found my first really strange thing to eat... a whole sparrow. It was the entire bird, head included, cooked on a stick. It was quite yummy. I was a little nervous about what eating the skull/head would taste like, but you can tell it was marinated in something, because it was way softer than I was predicting. I had some octopus as well, but that wasn't anything to write home about (See what I did there?).
We then went to the Sanjusangen-do Temple, where there's a 120 meter long pavilion that was a part of some world record breaking archery feats. I'm not going to try and remember the details, because I'm sure you can Google it... but what makes these 120 meter long shots hard is that it's under a pavilion, so you can only shoot *up* so much. Anyway, I guess they set a record for most shots-on-target or something, where they shot like 12,000 arrows in a 24 hour period, and landed over 8,000 of them? Either way, it was a cool temple. We had to take our shoes off, and we couldn't take any pictures, but we walked around and saw these really cool "1001 armed statues" and the goddess of compassion... definitely worth looking up some pictures of this!
We finished the day with a walking tour through the area in Kyoto where the Geisha (Geiko in Kyoto) are. We weren't able to see any of them, but we heard a brief history of them, and how they differ from those in Tokyo.
Off to bed now, I think we're heading to Osaka tomorrow?